Matt & Emmy in Antarctica & Easter Island travel blog

My winnng entry (Wandering Albatross)

Today was our second day at sea, on the way back to Ushuaia. The weather when we woke up was the worst we had seen so far, which is normal when approaching Cape Horn. The waves were breaking across the bow of the ship and hitting the windows in the dining room, 2 levels up from the main deck. Breakfast was a bit of a disaster as the ship was taking the wind on the port side, so the plates and cups of coffee were tossed all over the place. We went up to the bridge (a bit of a struggle) and found out from the officers that the waves were in the 15 - 20 foot range, with sustained winds of 50 knots gusting to 65 knots. This only lasted for a few hours, but it makes it easy to see why this area was the graveyard for so many ships over the years.

A highlight of the morning was passing Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America (actually an island offshore). Cape Horn is owned by Chile, and we could not stop there without re-entering Chile and hiring a Chilean pilot, which would have involved a 1 day trip the wrong way, but our Captain did bring us to within about 2 miles of the island itself, before we were chased off by radio calls from the Chilean navy base. It was quite a beautiful sight.

We spent the rest of the day sailing along the coast, and then down the Beagle Channel back to Ushuaia. We watched a cool movie about rounding the Cape in an earlier era. This was a 29 minute movie based on home movies filmed by a sailor in 1929, on one of the last wind-powered sailing ships. The storm hit a gale, and it makes any minor pitching and rolling we encountered seem like a bathtub. The film is called "Around Cape Horn with Captain Irving Johnson" and was released by the Mystic Seaport Museum. If you have any interest in sailing, try to track down a copy.

The end of the day brought the results of the photo contest, Several hundred photos were entered, and prizes were awarded by Chris Ranier for "Best Penguin," "Best Iceberg," "Best Shot of the Ship," "Best People Shot," "Funniest Photo" and "Best overall." I am quite happy to report that I won the "Best Overall" award for my photo of an Albatross (linked to above) in the Falkland Islands. There was some pretty stiff competition from a lot of serious amateur photographers, so I am very proud to have won. Chris is kindly taking all the photo entries he received and putting them on CD, to be mailed to everyone on the trip by National Geographic in a few weeks. It will be a nice keepsake and a good photographic tour of the trip.

In the evening, we had our farewell dinner hosted by the Captain. We had speeches from Captain Skog and many of our naturalists and expedition staff Emmy and I are both sad that the trip is ending for us (at least this part) It was a very nice ship, with wonderful staff and crew and nice passengers. We're exited about moving on to Easter Island, but the end of the ship part is a bit bittersweet.

We arrived in Ushuaia around 9 p.m. and docked. Emmy and I joined many of the staff and a couple of the other younger passengers in going out to a few bars in Ushuaia. We met up with some crews from other tourist boats in the harbor, and it was fun talking with them and hearing about how other companies run their trips. We had a rather late night, which involved bar hopping to several bars and even running into a bunch of the Philippine crew members at one bar, including our favorite waiter, Edwin. It was a fun way to cap off the trip.

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